Brooks hails impact of warm-up fixture following half-century


Brooks hails impact of warm-up fixture following half-century

Saturday, June 27, 2020

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MANCHESTER, England (CMC) — Rookie Shamarh Brooks believes the opening three-day warm-up game was critical for West Indies' batting group in becoming acclimatised to English conditions, especially since it was their first taste of competitive action since arriving here two weeks ago for next month's Test series.

The right-hander carved out an unbeaten half-century on Thursday as the fixture between Jason Holder's XI and Kraigg Brathwaite's XI finished in a tame draw at Old Trafford.

Traditional tour games against county opposition have been prohibited on this tour due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

“We definitely now looking forward to this series, and I personally believe the team who bats the best in this series will come up trumps,” Brooks told reporters via Zoom following the final day's play.

“When you look at the bowling of both sides, it's very strong, so it was good to get out there in this practice game and spend some time in the middle. We've been putting in some hard hours in the nets but nothing beats match practice and you need to spend some time out there to get your runs.

“The ball is always moving around — sometimes conditions play a big part — so spending time at the crease is going to be vital.”

West Indies' batting will be under the microscope in the three-Test series, in light of recent form and their last tour of England three years ago.

They failed to muster 200 in either innings in the opening Test at Birmingham in 2017 and slumped to a heavy innings defeat, and following a revival at Leeds where they levelled the series, again struggled to muster 200 in either innings at Lord's to lose the final Test.

Brooks said batting in England often proved challenging because of seam-friendly conditions and the remaining four-day warm-up match would therefore take on special significance for the touring batsmen.

“Looking at the conditions here, you know in England the ball is always doing something, you never feel as if you're set as a batsman, so you have to stick to your game plan,” he pointed out.

“The first 30 runs you might score you may need to set up your innings to bat that way all the way through.

“I think some of the guys got some good balls during this game — I can't really fault them technical-wise — but hopefully the next opportunity they get they can spend some more time out there and I'm sure once we spend some time out there it gets easier.”

The series will mark the first-ever Test tour of England for the 31-year-old Brooks who made his debut last August against India in the Caribbean.

But two years ago, he led West Indies A in a two-match four-day Test series here against India A and was good enough to average 74.

Recalling that experience, Brooks said adapting to conditions in England was crucial for touring sides.

“During this game the weather has been very good, very similar to our Caribbean conditions and my time here in 2018 against the India A team, I think it was a good summer that time as well,” he pointed out.

“Conditions were nice and warm, there were good batting pitches to play cricket on. It was a situation where I was coming off a good first-class season in the Caribbean, and I was full of confidence and I guess it just flowed into that series in 2018.

“Now, on this tour it is a different situation where we're faced with a pandemic and getting time in the middle is key.

“The nets can be a bit monotonous and you just have to get out there in the middle and see where you're hitting the ball and [assess your] shape and that kind of stuff. So over the last three days it was very very good.”

Brooks struck 66 not out while wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich hit an unbeaten 56 as Kraigg Brathwaite's XI declared their second innings on 231 for four after resuming the day on 99 for three.

And having come off a modest first-class season in the Caribbean where he averaged 18, Brooks said he could already see the tide turning in his favour.

“It wasn't the best season for me but thankfully because of COVID I had some time to reflect…and coming here I was doing a lot of thinking and visualising,” he said.

“We had two weeks quarantine and doing work, and I had a chat with Floyd [Reifer] the batting coach, and we've ironed out a few things and I'm seeing dividends.”

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